Is bi-partisanship possible? I have been a critic of President Trump dating back to when he was candidate Trump noting that attacking members of his adopted Party, especially John McCain, would haunt him. But, Trump being Trump managed in his first weeks to alienate virtually every person of consequence in both Parties. His insults were often hurled in the middle of the night in the form of tweets, and these were not the tweets of the Nightingale.
The President has now turned on his own Party’s Congressional poohbahs and none too soon. He has apparently decided that his four years are not going to be spent fuming over this fractious grouping called Republicans. This is not a compliant aggregation, so their congressional majorities count for less and less.
I hope the President’s pivot last week serves notice that he has learned how to count both votes and egos and use his own creatively. His deal with the minority leaders, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, does not, however, portend a new coalition. It does, however, challenge Republicans to be a governing Party and tells its leaders, and especially those in the so-called Freedom Caucus, that there is a penalty box.
One frequent critic of Trump said that his administration’s responses to the hurricanes formed his best week. I would add that the deal with the Democrats hinted at a coherent presidency.
Irony of the week.
It now appears that many of the fake social media posts attacking Hillary Clinton were manufactured by Russian digital saboteurs. Many of these posts were passed on by a mix of social media warriors and, I assume, some were conservatives gleefully piling on Clinton. Imagine–conservatives in unwitting collusion with the Russians. Beyond the lack of caution in repeating what others post, I would think conservatives would by nature be incredulous. But partisanship on all sides is often blinding.
Bannon: Wrong Again
Steve Bannon’s interview with Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes has been getting a lot of attention. I watched it recently and was struck by Bannon’s assertion that the Republican Establishment (hard to define) was attempting to nullify the election.
While trying to deal with the fractious Republican majority is not easy I would attribute any loss of leadership stature to the President himself. His amateurish and preening conduct has been a form of self-nullification.
Some commentators are even talking about Trump as the leader of an independent party. If Trump is to succeed in leading any party, he is going to have to articulate and follow governing principles. Mostly he has been a populist performance artist, and they don’t create sustainable political coalitions. Personality cults might look like political movements, but they are not.